March 11, 2017
Colombo 10 March 2017 – Top officials of the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) held a Press Conference in Colombo today. The following are excerpts:
– We asked for your presence today to highlight unprecedented levels of suppression presently being enforced against Maldivians who are opposed to the sale of Maldivian land and lagoons to a foreign country.
-We are here because we strongly oppose the selling of Maldivian land to foreigners and because we are unable to express our views in our own country.
– We seek to make you aware of the present situation of rising alarm and dismay over regression of democracy and corruption in Maldives.
– In fact negotiations for foreigners to own land were begun with the would be buyer as early as 2014. The June 2015 amendment to the Constitution was steamrolled in parliament at the behest of and as per instructions of the would-be buyer.
– The would be buyer is acting as a broker for third party interests of a much larger country.
– Government MP s have publicly stated and President Yaameen abdul Gayoom had announced his intent to let the acquisition of land and lagoons in Faafu Atoll on Freehold basis and that over a million foreigners would be dwelling in Maldives following the investment in Faafu Atoll-
– We are very alarmed by reports of Police action against a planned Sea Rally against foreigners buying land in Maldives.
– These past few days there had been increasing incidents intimidation by the Police and security forces against the political opposition, journalists and generally anyone protesting the covert and clandestine deal being made concerning Faafu Atoll.
– Police have raided the MDP Campaign Centre in Male’ twice last week. A number of Journalists have been summoned, taken into custody. They were expressly warned against “harming the sanctity” of a foreign dignitary. Police also confiscated Materials and banners prepared by the Maldivian Democratic Party for upcoming local elections.
– The President is now holding back unconstitutionally sessions of parliament (Majlis) after the Maldivian Democratic Party recently stated its intention to overturn the dubious constitutional amendment that allows foreign parties to own land in the Maldives, steamrolled in parliament (Majlis) during 2015. Two days ago on, 08 March 2017, Faris Maumoon MP, the son of former President Uz,.Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (the founder and Leader of the PPM), who opposes the sale of land to another country from within the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, proposed a motion of no confidence against the PPM elected Speaker of the house.
-President Uz. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and a significant majority of the ruling PPM are opposed to the sale of Maldivian land to any foreign party, as are the Adhaalath Party and partners of the Maldives United Opposition, including MPs of the Jumhooree Party.
– We deplore the fact that the government had continued to ignore numerous requests for information on the subject, raising public alarm and dismay over the purported land-grab. The controversial SEZ Law specifies that even the Maldives Constitution does not apply further to Freeholds given under the law, nor can the Police or security forces intrude in the area.
– We have seen how serious that land grabs by foreign countries had become in our region. The case of the Maldives is far more serious in that negotiations are clandestine, and we have credible information that the present land-grab claims involve some three strategic areas in Maldives, namely Faafu Atoll, Haa Alif Atoll and Thaa Atoll.
– It has now emerged that the SEZ Law was steamrolled in parliament (Majlis) in 2015 by the PPM majority of coopted members on the directions of investingparties. These devious partnerships involving invisible partners have colluded for this land grab in which the ultimate owners are unknown.
– Government statements of construction to accommodating over a million people in a Maldivian Atoll, dredging and reclaiming sizeable tracts, would also have unforeseen adverse environmental impacts.
– Such a venture for mass tourism would also bankrupt operators of the existing style of tourism, and it is alarming that President Yaameen is intent on bankrupting Maldivian businesses while pandering to the wishes of foreign parties whose intent is to make a sizeable commission on brokering a deal with an un-named third country.
– Let me emphasize that the Maldivian United Opposition and a majority of Maldivians are against the sale of Faafu Atoll, or parts of that atoll, or any other part of Maldives, not necessarily because the buyer from a particular country but because we are opposed to any foreign party buying land in the Maldives.
– More ominous is the fact that the foreign party’s interests are purported to be brokers for another country vying for supremacy in the Indian Ocean. Allegations of Corruption against the regime of President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom, the corrupt dealings of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation MMPRC, the bribing of MPs, Judges, and heads of Independent Institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commission for Information, are all connected to the acquisition of Maldivian land by the rulers of another country.
– Our most precious resource is our land – over 90% of territory is covered in water. We live from tourism and fisheries. Selling our land and lagoons to any country is tantamount to signing away our sovereignty to those with their own agenda – an agenda that could threaten the stability of the Maldives and the Indian Ocean.
– Meanwhile, inhabitants of Faafu Atoll are being intimidated by the heavy presence of security forces.
– It is our firm belief that our close neighbors as well as others should not condone secret transactions by potential contestants for maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean.
– As we had stated before, the Faafu Atoll deal would allow a foreign power to control one of the country’s 26 atolls – which amounts to creeping colonization of the Maldives.
– This deal would also compromise the Security of the Indian Ocean. More alarming is the fact that it would accelerate ongoing radicalization, leading on to polarizing Maldivian society to that of hardliners and moderates. Already Maldives is second to Tunisia as the highest per-capita recruitment grounds for the ISIS.
-The background to all this covert and underhand deals is familiar to most of you. President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom had arrested anyone who might challenge him in 2018. While on the outside it makes apparent a dictator arresting his opponents, the real motive of this concerted suppression is to cover up a number of instances of massive corruption and International money laundering, most of which involving seed money to float these clandestine and improper deals. Prima Facie evidence telecast by international broadcaster Al Jazeera have largely been ignored by concerned institutions in Maldives, as almost all of them comprise officials co-opted by the regime of President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom.
We appeal to all international well-wishers, concerned authorities and institutions in Maldives and abroad to prevail over the regime of President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom to immediately desist from harassing peaceful protestors exercising their right to freedom of expression; to stop these secret and devious negotiations and ensure that matters of state are conducted with due transparency and accountability.
– We will do everything possible to stop or reverse deal for Faafu or any part of Maldives.
(The panelists included Ahmed Naseem, Former Foreign Minister, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mohamed Aslam Former Minsiter of Housing and Environment, Shadow Minister of Environment, Waste Management and Clean Energy ; Adam Azim Former MD of State Trading Organisation, Shadow Minister of Trade and Transport; Abdulla Ameen Former Minister at the President’s Office , Shadow Minister of Defence and National Security; Ahmed Nasheed Chair of Research and Publications Committee, Adhaalath Party, Shadow Minister of Housing and Infrastructure and Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, Former Minister of Youth and Sports and Shadow Minister of Resort & Guesthouse Tourism.)